The Principled Agent

Thoughts on development economics and impact measurement

Impact-driven Performance Dashboard for One Acre Fund

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After writing up some initial thoughts on One Acre Fund’s dashboard, I thought I might offer my own vision of a performance dashboard for the Fund. Incorporating the performance information on the website and the 2010 financial statements, I was able to piece together an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the organization in 2010, which I present in the dashboard along with some of the key drivers of program effectiveness and efficiencies. I chose to focus on 2010 because I could get the financial statements easily for that year through the website.

To briefly outline the dashboard:

a) Social Return on Investment: This section begins with how much grant money was used in 2010.  Since part of the expenses are covered by program fees paid by the participants, this number is lower than the expenses. Farmer Income generated presents the amount of money generated for farmers due to program activities. The multiplier simply connects the two figures, illustrating that a dollar donated resulted in $1.10 in the pockets of farmers. I would also assume that the impact on farmer is larger than present here, due to increased income beyond the first year, but that information is not publicly-available. On the operational levels, program- and fundraising-specific metrics speak to the returns each is generating with the grant funds they are using.

b) Impact and Scale: I have taken the average of the $100 to $120 farmer income increase range provided here, and the member numbers from the dashboard. These figures drive the effectiveness component of the broader social return on investment picture. You can also see what portion of the impact growth is due to increases in members and per-farmer income, respectively. In order to calculate the growth rate for ‘per farmer income increase’ I looked at the changes in the ROI numbers from the dashboard, though these figures don’t align with the $100 to $120 range provided on the monitoring and evaluation page (which appears to be the best estimate of income impact).

c) Sustainability:  I noted in my review that the current sustainability metrics don’t speak to the overall organizational sustainability or efficiency. Here the grant cost per member metric tracks how much subsidy is required for each person served. As One Acre Fund continues to scale and develop greater efficiencies, the needle should move on the grant cost per member figure: in 2010, it indeed improved.  While the fees/program costs figures are worthwhile as well, I would argue that the grant cost per member may be a better focal point.

While this example was specific to One Acre Fund, this represents the type of performance analysis and dashboard that I think that would better inform both performance management donor decision-making. If you have any questions please feel free to send me an email at cdp283 at nyu dot edu.

Disclaimer: This dashboard and analysis is illustrative, and required making assumptions based on the publicly-available information, and rounding out for simplicity. Furthermore, it is based on 2010 performance. If you have additional information that could improve the rigor and robustness of the analysis above, please contact me at the email address above.


Written by Chris Prottas

March 4, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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